Imported Fire Ant

Characteristics

Imported fire ants have a 10-segmented antennae that has a 2-segmented club. Worker ants are 3/25 to 1/4 inch in length. They are reddish brown and may have a shiny opaque black abdomen. Male fire ants are mostly black.

Habitat

Imported fire ants create coned-shaped dome mounds of excavated soil. These mounds are commonly hard and rain resistant. Mounds are found in pastures, parks, golf courses, and fields.

Behavior

Imported fire ants look like just an average ant. However, they are very aggressive and can cause painful stings that create blisters at the site of the bites. Workers are hostile and will defend their mound when it is disturbed.

The creation of their colonies relies on their queens. Once a queen or queens find a suitable nest, and after producing enough workers, the queen will become an egg laying machine that will just spend her days creating eggs while her workers take care of them. Workers have the ability to serve different queens and cooperate with other workers that are not their relatives, which allows their colony to grow rapidly.

Food

Imported fire ants are omnivorous that will eat almost any plants or animals that they can find. However, they love to feed on insects, even those insects that are necessary in pollination.

Life Cycle

A fire ant colony may contain a single queen or in some cases, it may contain many queens that are unrelated and will produce workers and immatures. The immature goes into four stages, which are the egg, larva, pupa, and last as an adult. Winged males and females become active during the late spring and early summer. This will be followed by a nuptial flight following a rainfall. Once mating happens, the surviving female will search for a place to create her colony.

A single colony can have a single queen that can lay 800 eggs in a day, but the queen can also have recruited queens to help build the colony. Unrelated queens and their workers can live peacefully together, creating a cooperative colony. This colony can have 500,000 to 800,000 individuals and may have 10 -100 more queens.

Other Information and Tips

The imported fire ant is not your typical ant. Their aggressive behavior makes them a dangerous pest. They can sting continuously as they grasp the skin of their victim and inject their venom from their poisonous sac with the use of their jaws. After a few hours, the bitten area will experience burning and itching followed by a small blister that will become a white pustule after a day or two. Individuals who are even sensitive to their bite may suffer chest pains, nausea, sweating, slurred speech, and swelling.

These ants are also a nuisance with domesticated animals and a serious problem in urban and agricultural environments. Animals may get blinded or killed if these ants attack them. Fruits and plants are damaged and destroyed by them. And, they are known for decimating insects, thus reducing the needed food supply of other beneficial insects.

If you find a mound that contains imported fire ants make sure to stay away from it. These ants can bring more harm than good. Better call a pest control specialist to solve the nest for you to avoid any inconvenience and harm to you and your household.


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